I Cried


Today I shut you out. My dear sweet girl. I told you you were horrible and that I couldn’t cope with your behaviour any more. I screamed at you like I’ve never screamed before, and I ordered you out of the bedroom. I was so angry, that you obeyed. That broke my heart a little bit. And then I closed the door on you, I shut you out, and I laid down to comfort your baby sister, listening to you beg for me to let you in. And I cried.

I cried for all my parenting ideals shattered in that moment. I cried because of my words and my actions. I cried because no matter how much I try to be what you need me to be, it’s never enough. I cried because I have a tiny baby who needs me, that I can’t give myself to because you won’t let me. I cried because I’ve barely spoken to my partner in days. I cried because I haven’t had a single moment to myself in months. I cried because you were hurting… SO obviously hurting, and I just didn’t know how to deal with that.

I cried my eyes out.

And so did you. And you begged and screamed and banged on the door. And I was torn between my anger and despair, the needs of my ever-so-tired baby who was crying, and the needs of my child. In that moment I was utterly frozen, without a clue what to do next.

But in this parenting lark you don’t get to just tap out. Somehow, from somewhere, you just have to find some more strength. You just have to carry on. And so I did.

I stopped crying. I got the baby to stop crying. And I went to you. I was still so angry, but I managed to calm down enough to hug you and tell you how much I love you. And eventually we talked. And you told me how you hate having a sister and wish things could go back to how they were before she was born. And you cried your little eyes out until you fell to sleep.

And I cried.

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Where Did It Go?


I’m laying here in bed at 7am with a sleeping child on either side of me, wide awake. Dreams about The Lego Movie computer game (Nookie’s latest favourite) are fading. Everywhere is the soft sound of deep sleep breathing.

And I’m wondering, where did the fun go?

Nookie is so serious lately. It’s like some of the life has gone out of her. That exuberance. I think it’s my fault…

Have I become so bogged down
with the demands of two children? Have I forgotten how to just take ten minutes to mess about? Has life become one long series of things to get done? It’s funny how you can just slip into that mindset without even realising it! There’s no wonder she’s lost some of her joy when the person she spends most of her time with is so serious and task-orientated.

Reaching this realisation has cost me a morning’s sleep. You know when you’re woken for a bit too long and suddenly your brain starts working and you can’t turn it off? I think sometimes maybe you need that quiet time to reflect. It’s not something I get often. Maybe that’s why I’ve only just seen this.

Man, what is with me that I can’t see what’s right in front of me?!

Today will be different! Today will be joyful. I just can’t wait for her to wake up…

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A (Typical) Day in Our Life

Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have given us a special glimpse into their everyday.

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Our days vary. Some days we’re very busy travelling around, going to Home Ed groups, and rarely get a spare moment. Other days (most usually in winter), we stay home and play Minecraft for hour upon hour upon hour. The resounding theme is usually: I’m busy. Busy with children, busy with animals, busy doing housework… busy. We live a full life, and I’m almost always engaged with my kids. So here’s a typical day:

Mornings:
We generally get up between 9 and 10am. The baby usually wakes first, then I get up and make breakfast and do a bit of cleaning while Nookie watches YouTube videos.

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While she eats I feed the baby and try to eat my breakfast at the same time.

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Then we typically go downstairs and take over the TV playing Minecraft. Or head out somewhere. (Today we went swimming).

Afternoons:
Sometimes Nookie watches some TV. Sometimes we play Minecraft. Sometimes we do a bit of both.

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The trampoline gets a lot of use. Watching TV and playing computer games is not a stationary activity in our home!

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While we play, baby Smushface is generally quite happy in her bouncer.

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The baby generally sleeps in the sling at some point in the afternoon. And I try to get a few things done while Nookie watches TV or plays with daddy.

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To keep on top of the housework I aim to do one big job every day. Yesterday I vaccuumed, today I put the laundry away. Having kids and lots of pets creates an extraordinary amount of housework!

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Nookie isn’t much into crafts, but occasionally she enjoys drawing pictures (almost always of monsters). Today she drew monster pictures so she could stick them up all over the house and play Slender Man.

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When the baby is awake Nookie loves to play with her.

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Evening:
At some point, either Hedgehog or I cook dinner. Nookie usually eats sitting in bed watching the tablet, while I attempt to eat one-handed with a baby in my arms.

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Smushface is almost always really unsettled in the evenings, especially at the minute as she’s teething. It’s difficult for me to get anything at all done in the evenings between rocking a crying baby and trying to give Nookie some attention too. Occasionally I manage to wash the dishes, but usually Hedgehog does it.

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Sometimes she’ll be calm enough for me to do them, and sit in her bouncer watching the cats walk around.

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Then eventually (usually at around 11pm) Nookie, Smushface and I all get snuggled up in bed and watch movies until they’re asleep.

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Smushface is really easy to disturb when she’s asleep, so it’s rare that I can extricate myself from her. Usually, the moment I move she wakes up, so I take her downstairs with me and nurse her back to sleep while Hedgehog and I watch an hour of TV before going to bed ourselves.

The End

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 10 with all the carnival links.)

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Life as a Mother of Two


I’m not gonna lie… life right now is tough! I mean, really tough. The sort of tough where you don’t even look forward to bedtime because you know tomorrow will be more of the same. I’ve started measuring my life by hours, not days. Because they’re all the same, and to measure them by the days would just be too depressing.

I think maybe we took Nookie’s acceptance of the new baby for granted. Because suddenly she is NOT happy! And it’s not manifesting itself so much as a resentment of Smushface, as she still obviously adores her. Instead she has become super high-demanding, attached, emotional… every difficult phase she’s ever been through all rolled into one! Suddenly I can’t leave the house again without her, and she doesn’t want to leave either so I’m basically trapped indoors. She won’t speak to other children at all. I’ve stopped taking her to groups because she would spend the whole time refusing to speak to anyone, and not letting me speak to anyone either. When we’re at home all she wants to do is play Minecraft with me, and the second I stop to do anything at all she’s on the verge of a meltdown. Smushface hardly gets a look in. I spend about 6 hours a day most days playing Minecraft – sometimes more.

It’s taking it’s toll on me. The days and weeks roll together into one long fugue of Minecraft, preventing meltdowns, feeding Smushface and housework… because that’s all I ever do. I haven’t seen any friends for weeks. We’ve only really left the house to go food shopping (with the exemption of a couple of family evenings out), and even that required sometimes hours of negotiation and arguing. And on top of all that Smushface has been teething for months now and is constantly unsettled, needing me to rock her for hours most evening and waking up the second I put her down when she’s asleep.

It’s intense. But then that’s always been Nookie – intense. She doesn’t cope with change well. We should have remembered that and anticipated it a bit more.

But still, we’re trying our damnedest to accommodate her. I’ve fallen back on my wonderful supportive friends, if only via Facebook and email, hounded those excellent Radical Unschooling Facebook groups I’m part of with my questions, and received some brilliant suggestions and insights, and I’m reading books to help me understand how to approach things differently. I give Nookie as much time and attention as I can, and try to empathise with her emotional meltdowns. I lean on Hedgehog, and he leans on me. I take a deep breath, and every morning I wake up and do it all again, even though I know it’ll be just the same. I wake up each morning with a smile on my face, kiss my children, and prepare myself for another day of absolute selflessness. And try not to go totally insane…

And remind myself that this too shall pass. And soon (not fucking soon enough!) it’ll be summer again, and Nookie will come out of her cocoon and want to interact with the world again (I HOPE!).

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A Week of Unschooling: Stop-Motion and Creepypasta


Lately Nookie has been really into stop-motion animation. We watched the film The Boxtrolls and at the end of it is a little extra footage of the clay characters being manipulated by a person, at super-speed. Nookie wanted to know what it was, so we discussed stop-motion animation, how it’s done, and then I found an app for my phone that lets you take a series of photographs and puts them together into your own animation. After weeks of playing about with it Nookie has made dozens of short, seconds-long animations of various toys moving around, foods gradually being eaten, etc (I take the pictures, she moves the characters). She loves it.

Her other current passion is Creepypastas. She discovered the characters Slenderman, Jeff the Killer and Ticci Toby through various YouTube videos, and then we did a bit of research and found the original short stories (Creepypastas) that they came from. She loved the very macabre stories, and has also had fun painting her face and mine to look like Jeff the Killer and Slenderman.

Here’s what else we’ve been doing over the last week or so:

* Reading her favourite Dirty Bertie stories over and over again.

* Watching people playing various computer games on YouTube (Octodad, Happy Wheels, Minecraft, etc).

* Watching videos of pranks of YouTube, including Jackass and SA Wardega.

* Making biscuits, cutting the dough into various shapes and decorating them using food colouring pens.

* Making stop-motion animation videos using playmobil and play doh.

* Playing Horrid Henry with various toys taking the place of the characters in the cartoon.

* Playing Hide and Seek.

* Painting her face and mine like Jeff the Killer and Slenderman.

* Watching Slenderman videos.

* Reading Creepypastas together.

* Playing Happy Wheels, Sonic the Hedgehog, Temple Run 2, and Plants vs Zombies.

* Painting pictures, and decorating them with glitter.

* We downloaded Minecraft for the X-box 360, and she has been doing really well at learning to use the control pad. We’ve experimented with redstone and learned about how switches and electric circuits work.

* Watching Stampylongnose Minecraft videos on YouTube.

* Watching lots of films including The Boxtrolls, Scooby Doo movies, The Book of Life, Frankenweenie, Wreck it Ralph.

* Watching Sanjay and Craig and Spongebob Squarepants.

* Helping me take care of her baby sister. We’ve had lots of discussions about how babies grow and develop.

* Drawing pictures of stick men and various other things, then animating them using an app on the tablet.

* Making up stories for me to draw.

* Making her own books by sticking in stickers and getting me to illustrate the rest of the story and write down what the characters are saying.

* We discussed the concept of pocket money, and Nookie negotiated an amount of money and what day she would be paid it on. Then we counted out the decided amount of money, and talked about how much that would buy her. Then she decided to spend it on eBay, so I opened the app for her and let her choose something to spend the money on. We discussed the concept of bidding on something, but not necessarily winning it. (She did win the item and was very pleased with her purchase when it arrived in the post. She’s already trying to decide what to spend her next lot of pocket money on).

* We’ve done lots of looking at the clock and discussing what the time is. She seems very interested in learning to tell the time at the moment, so I bought her a giant poster with a dry-marker, bare clock face to draw the clock times on, which we have used.

* We’ve discussed what lots of different words say, and she’s constantly asking me how to spell various words. She’s also learning how to read big numbers through playing the game Temple Run 2 – each time she gets a score she lists the numbers and asks me what those numbers make (e.g. 155,500 – what that number is).

* Playing with Lego to build a spaceship.

* Building her very first snow man when it snowed.

* By herself she discovered Crafty Carol on Cool School, on YouTube, and after watching her make a few crafts we went and made a snow globe and an “under-the-sea” bottle.

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